So now we come to the practical application side of this series and why I titled it: Finding J0y NOT Happiness in the Lord.
Although there are many great books written on JOY, these two have been particularly impacting on me personally: 11 Keys that Unlock the Door to Joy and Keep It Open, by Ken L. and Gaylyn Williams Whalin (Broadman & Holman, Nash. Tenn., 1993). And The Key to Lasting Joy by: T.W. Wilson (Word Books, Waco, Texas, 1987).
Practical Ways to Finding Joy NOT Happiness in the Lord:
Have a growing “heart knowledge” of God.
- The more intimate we are with God, the greater our joy. If you are not joyful at this time, try seeing if it’s because you have more of a head knowledge than heart knowledge of God.
How do we have a heart knowledge of God?
- Focus on what God has done in your life and thank Him.
- Read Psalms and praise Him for Who He is.
- Personalize scripture by inserting your name in places where pronouns or other nouns are used in the text. Begin with Ephesians 1 & 2.
- Discover verses that describe God, and memorize them.
- Meditate on Scripture.
- Sing praise and worship songs from your heart. (I especially like to do that in my car! Sure, I get strange looks from other drivers, as I belt out “Shout to the Lord…” but that’s okay 🙂 )
- Share with others what God reveals to you about Himself.
- Claim God’s promises in tough times.
- Pray through Scripture.
- Keep a journal, or prayer journal so you can look back periodically and be reminded of God’s activity in your life.
- God’s Word Reveals Joy.
- Spending time in His Word is important to finding JOY in Him.
- It’s not merely reading the Word, but experiencing it (as my Pastor likes to say.)
- Carve out time. (I know we live busy lives, but even a few minutes a day will help you find Joy in the Lord through the reading of His Word.)
- Read the Bible, not just books ABOUT the Bible. (I have dozens of great devotionals etc. I might use to “whet my palate” so to speak, but the “main course” has to come from the Bible reading itself.)
- Memorize God’s Word. (I really struggle with this, I’ll be honest. So here are a few practical suggestions on how to memorize scripture):
As you start to memorize a verse…
- first choose which translation you wish to use to memorize a passage of scripture. I prefer NIV but there are many great translations to choose from.
- read in your Bible the context of each verse you memorize.
- try to gain a clear understanding of what each verse actually means.
- Read the verse through several times, thoughtfully, aloud, or in a whisper. Each time you read it, say the topic, reference, verse, and then the reference again.
- pray about what you have just read, and pray that God will give you success to commit the verse to memory.
As you begin to memorize the verse:
- say the verse aloud as much as possible
- learn the topic and reference first and repeat it after the scripture passage. ie: Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
- for longer passages, learn the first phrase of the verse, and once you have mastered that, continue adding more phrases until you have learned the entire passage.
- write the verse out, put it on “post it” notes and post in conspicuous places – like the bathroom mirror or your computer.
- partner with someone to help you memorize the verse.
- practice, practice, practice!
The idea is to:
- Fill your mind with scripture.
- Meditate on scripture.
- Pray through scripture.
- Get involved in a Bible Study (individual or group)
- Dig deeper – do a word study or a book/chapter study on your own.
This will allow you to gain “heart knowledge” as well as “head knowledge” about the Lord. You are actually building a trust relationship with God through these exercises. Why?
- Because Trust Releases Joy.
- “Joy is a deep settled confidence that a loving Heavenly Father is in control of the details of my life.”
We have a choice how we will respond to our trials. We can worry, get uptight, complain or we can rejoice in Him knowing He is in control. We can measure our trust in two ways:
- Do we really say: God will use this for good in my life? (Romans 8:28)
- We can measure our trust by the degree of contentment we feel as we choose to focus on Him in the midst of our trials.
2. Obedience Restores Joy. – obey God and have joy; disobey Him and be miserable. (Luke 11:28)
Sin is like spiritual leprosy – it robs you of joy, and deadens your spiritual senses. If you are deliberately disobeying His Word, how can you expect God to give you His full measure of JOY? The list of blessings for obedience is endless, but be careful that you are not being obedient just to obtain JOY – that should NOT be our motivation. (John 14:23-24) We obey because we desire an intimate relationship with God.
3. Prayer Maintains Joy.
- Your prayer life may be one of the best indicators how rich or how poor your JOY life is.
- 1. What one thing are you doing now that is helping you to have a “heart knowledge” of God?
- 2. What thing or things would you like to do better?
- 3. Commit to doing one of those things you’ve listed in question 2 (ie: memorizing scripture, going to a Bible Study, praying, reading Scripture etc.) and make a point of sharing that commitment with a trusted other (spouse, relative, friend) so you will be held accountable.
(*This blog series was first published by Lynn Dove in April/May 2012.)